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No merger with DCT, clarifies DPT

Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) clarified in a press release yesterday that Druk Chirwang Tshogpa (DCT) is not merging with the party as a merger was not found feasible.

Instead, DPT has agreed that Lily Wangchuk and some of her interested members could join them if DCT deregistered as a political party. However, acceptance of candidates would be subject to DPT’s selection criteria and procedures.

“We also agreed that some of DCT’s social agenda regarding women and youth could be considered, if relevant,” states the press release.

Three days after deregistering as a political party with the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB), Druk Chirwang Tshogpa (DCT) announced that the party is merging with DPT on Wednesday.

Talking at the conference held by DCT on Thursday, the former president of DCT, Lily Wangchuk, said that merging with DPT was a strategic move. She said that the merger with DPT can take forward the ideology, noble ideas and objectives of DCT. “DPT was the only party that welcomed the idea of a union after DCT’s deregistration and given ideological similarity, DCT members jointly decided to carry forward its ideas, ideology, passion and conviction to represent the voice of common people, women and youth by merging with DPT,” she said.

Lily Wangchuk has confirmed her interest to DPT to join as their North Thimphu candidate.

She also said that by combining forces, they intend to present a progressive manifesto that is responsive to all section of the society. “DPT has the experience of having worked as the government and the opposition. We believe that our union with DPT will help us draw on each other’s strength and help add more diversity,” she said, “With the merger, we could be a strong contender.”

The decision to join DPT came after a nationwide consultation with all the candidates, coordinators and members over the period of six months with both DPT and Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT). However, DCT could not come to an understanding with DNT as DNT was not flexible of DCT’s proposals.

Lily Wangchuk said that both parties approached her to represent them as a candidate but she had to make sure that all her candidates and members were not left behind.

She said that DCT has deregistered as a political party. “It does not mean dissolving,” she said, “because only the Supreme Court can dissolve a political party.”

Lily Wangchuk explained that DPT currently has about 10 constituencies with candidates. She said that members from both the parties will be competing to fill the candidacy after the screening process and criteria.

“I think it is fair as members from both the parties can participate and be the candidate,” said a member of DCT.

A notification from ECB states that DCT submitted an application on February 20 signed by 15 founding members expressing their desire for deregistration. The reasons for deregistration were lack of state funding, inadequate resources, absence of rich supporters and nominal membership fees. Without sufficient resources, the party would not be able to fund their election campaign in 2018.

The party was not eligible for state funding as it did not garner 10% of the popular vote in 2013. The party secured 5/9% or about 12,000 of the total votes in the primary round in 2013.

Lucky Wangmo with additional reporting by Chencho Dema